We potted our lychees air layers in a blend, of coco, peat, bark, and perlite, with some organic starter nutrients and plenty of beneficial bacteria. It took time to grasp the needs of our little lychee air layers. They lived indoors under artificial lighting through the winter, protected from wind and cold. We watered and fed them with our Arduino controlled drip system. They finally took root, and began to thrive, but not without issue.
We learned the hard way just how sensitive our lychees were to both, over fertilization, and the salts in our hydroponic nutrient blend. The older leaves eventually started looking chlorotic, and the plants dropped a lot of their leaves.
So you can imagine our excitement when our little lychees were growing new green stems and budding out. A few weeks later, the plant still dropping leaves from previously having been over fertilized, we realized our new growth was all floral. We went back into panic mode. The flowers were beautiful, and dense enough that some properly pollinated. Small fruit started to grow, so we trimmed them all off, fearful the plant would partially fruit, then run out of energy, and die.
The weather warmed up, and the lychees still dropping leaves with no new leaf growth, were moved out side into an area built to protect from wind. They were slowly hardened off, and eventually moved into direct sunlight.
Only a couple weeks after the flush of flower buds had finished, a new flush of buds began growing at the base of new growth, as well as on older growth. Days of monitoring anxiously, finally revealed these new buds were indeed new leaves.
So what had happened?
Basically, we over fertilized, and stunted our plant, the wrong balance of fertilizer may have also promoted a flush of flowers, but we are pretty sure the flush type was mostly dependent on temperatures.
How do you promote green growth?
Heat! When the plant was moved into bright, warm, full sun, the soil temperature climbed. Warmer soil promotes flushes of leaves.
How do you promote flowering?
Colder Temperatures. Lychees don’t like to be too cold, but below a specific soil temperature, lychees like a lot of plants, will set fruit instead of leaves.
If we try growing Lychee from air layers during the winter again, we’ll take a slightly different approach. We will definitely reduce the nutrients in our water reservoir, but we’ll also add some heaters, and add a heating mat to raise the soil temperatures.
We’ve learned a lot about Lychee growing in the last year, so let us know if you have any comments or questions. We’d love to help you out if we can.